Q&A with Gordon Smart

Q&A with Gordon Smart

You must be really excited to have your own dedicated show on BBC Radio 5 Live and broadcasting from Glasgow, how does it feel?

I’m thrilled to be part of the 5 Live family for real. It has been an amazing experience being a supply teacher across the network over the last year, so finally having my name above the door, on home soil, feels incredible.

Working from Pacific Quay always feels special. I know a lot of the people in the building and I’ve always been made very welcome. The last time I worked in Glasgow it was a challenging time for Scotland – we had a referendum, Commonwealth Games, a Ryder Cup and some massive news stories so a part of me is apprehensive about history repeating itself.

Have you always been a big fan of the station?

I’ve been an avid listener of the station for a long time. In fact, I applied to work here over 20 years ago. I’d always have 5 Live on in the morning when I was driving to work in Glasgow when I was working in newspapers, and I’d have it on for the commute home too.

I’ve got such fond memories of the time I had in company of all the great journalists and presenters. Here’s a little secret – I often sleep with 5 Live on, and it somehow fills my brain with information.

Can you tell us more about what listeners can expect from the new show?

I’m hoping to put out all the fires started by Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton on 606! It will be a seamless handover from sport – which I’ll dip my toes into too, then plenty of music and entertainment content, leading into news. Hopefully that should set the great man Stephen Nolan up for his show at 10pm.

I’ve signed Owen O’Kane during the summer transfer season and he’s in the form of his life. If you haven’t met him before, he’s a best-selling author and psychotherapist from Northern Ireland. He’s going to be on hand to coach us all through the fear of the week ahead.

I’m also planning to dig into my black book of contacts for some regular features we’ll unveil in the show. I’ve spent so much time on the phone recently starting the hustle for this show. It’s great to feel like a journalist chasing interviews again.

You’ve got some interesting regular features in the new programme, including ‘One To Forget’ and ‘The Fear’ – can you tell us more about them?

Let’s just say it won’t be sycophantic – we’ll be giving you hope with my guest’s admissions of their own spectacular failures. I’ll be offering myself up as a sacrificial lamb too. Plus, Owen will be giving us the guidance we need to navigate the challenges of the week. He’s a breath of fresh air and a master at unpicking the issues we’re all facing right now without meaningless affirmations or platitudes.

What would be your ‘One To Forget’?

I still have anxiety dreams about a shocker of a moment at an event I was attending. I was asked to speak at a function at the House of Lords and I had absolutely nothing prepared. I was put on the spot, had too much to drink and it was a hostile audience due to my job at the time. A very senior politician introduced me, using the wrong name, and I froze. My lips stuck to my teeth and I mumbled some ill-thought out panicky nonsense to a smattering awkward applause. So, the fear of a big audience and no preparation is probably the short answer.

What is the one thing that gives you ‘The Fear’?

As you might have seen from a recent performance on BBC Morning Live, dancing in front of people makes me physically contort in fear and pain. I’ve got a teenage son and his antics during the summer holidays with his pals is a fear I had never experienced before. I know what I was like at his age, so I’m strapping myself in for that.

You’ve interviewed some big names over the years, I’m sure you’ve got lots of great stories to share. Who has been your favourite so far and why?

I went to Salt Lake City in Utah to interview Coldplay on their World Tour about 15 years ago. I ended up staying on the road with them for a week in California with a front row seat for life with one of the biggest bands on the planet. It was surreal knocking about with them at the American Music Awards, then playing football in Santa Monica and going out on the tiles with Guy Berryman. I’ll never forget the little bit I choose to remember.

I still can’t believe that spell of my life – I met some many inspirational and talented people in some incredible places. From the Marley family in Jamaica, living in Strawberry Hill and GoldenEye, getting into a spot of bother in Germany on a trip with Paul McCartney, to being dragged out of the crowd in Vegas by Scary Spice in Vegas on the Spice Girls World Tour. A lot of mad stuff has happened.

You’ve worked in so many different roles in the media industry from being a showbiz reporter to newspaper editor, presenting on TV and also multiple radio shows and a podcast, what do you like most about radio presenting?

I love the variety – every day is so different. You have to be incredibly versatile to turn your hand to Russian politics then have a conversation about toxic caterpillars in the Algarve threatening holidaymakers. The breadth of brilliant sport coverage plays to my interests too – I’m into so much, it’s the perfect gig to keep across what’s really happening in the world. And the listeners are so involved, it’s a spectacularly good feeling when you have a conversation that chimes with the audience or you ask a question that earns trust and approval from the people we are working for.

And finally, your new show has been described as the perfect Sunday antidote, aside from presenting your show, what makes up the perfect Sunday for you?

A long walk with my dog, Jock, in the Ochil Hills.

A full Scottish breakfast with my family.

Music on loud and all the Sunday papers to devour on my own.

Then watching my son playing football, my daughter doing a show (she’s a singer and dancer) followed by a Sunday Roast.

Hopefully I’ll have enough energy after that to deliver the goods on air!

BBC Radio 5 Live

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